Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rabbi David Rosen on Benedict's pilgrimage and anticipated impact on Jewish-Christian relations

Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, recently spoke on the papal pilgrimage and its anticipated effect on Catholic-Jewish relations:
"Pope Benedict XVI will be walking in the footsteps of his great predecessor both literally and figuratively. Pope John Paul II -- very much the hero of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation in our times -- understood full well that the visit of a pope to Israel has a special significance of its own," he said.

Rabbi Rosen said that even if the visit of Pope John Paul in 2000 was described as a pilgrimage "it was still a state visit with all the relevant trappings" and recognized the essential relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Pope Benedict, too, will be demonstrating more than good will to the 6 million Jews who reside in the Holy Land today, he said.

The rabbi said a papal visit can give wider expression to some of the principles and values familiar to dialogue experts.

"Most Israeli Jews and especially the more traditional and observant among them have never met a modern Christian," he said. But when they saw Pope John Paul visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Western Wall and heard what he had to say, they realized the head of the Catholic Church was a "sincere friend," he said.

Rabbi Rosen's remarks were made in the April 29 English-language edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

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